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PMS Overeating & Binges—and More on Cravings
by Dr. Daniel J. Heller
In our PMS food and chocolate cravings article, we discussed how unbalanced blood sugar can create PMS cravings, and touched on premenstrual chocolate cravings—a phenomenon we think most women are familiar with! We continue the discussion with sweets and salt cravings and go further to discuss emotional eating, overeating, and binging, which often take a turn for the worse premenstrually.
Sweets seem like they're all around us: the candy on a colleague's desk, the friend who is an expert baker, the cookies at the bank. Whatever your individual preference and your downfall, it can feel nearly impossible to resist those temptations anytime, and even more so shortly before your period. What's more, for women with severe PMS & chocolate food cravings, sweets become almost an obsession: some women describe it as a "sweets addiction."
You can get a handle on sweets cravings and stop overeating sweets—but remember, it's all about prevention. By the time you're dipping into the cookie jar or walking into the local ice cream shop, it's too late. Here's what we recommend:
People have always craved salt. Some nutritionists believe it's because our blood is as salty as seawater; others point out that salt is rare and precious in nature, so we're built to love the taste of it.
Too much salt can be harmful, though, contributing to an acidic environment in the body, raising blood pressure, and worsening PMS bloating. If you crave salty foods before your period, you may be craving starchy foods like pretzels and chips rather than the salt flavoring, so the general blood sugar-balancing guidelines from the food and chocolate cravings article may be helpful for you. These how-to steps will help you prevent PMS salt cravings:
Sometimes, all your best efforts just aren't enough to stave off binging, overeating, and emotional eating. It's important to recognize what a difficult challenge this can be, and to be patient and forgiving with yourself. When you're trying to stop emotional eating and PMS overeating, it's not uncommon to experience setbacks. Having a disciplined diet is hard enough anytime; it's much harder in the days and weeks preceding your period.
If you find your cravings aren't so much a desire for a particular food or flavor but rather a change in your appetite and ability to feel satisfied, there's plenty you can do to win the food battle, even if you're in the midst of PMS. We suggest you start with the following to help you stop overeating:
Please note: anorexia, bulimia, and binging and purging are serious medical problems. Although they can become worse premenstrually, they are much more than just a PMS or premenstrual symptom, and require professional help.
This point of being kind to yourself is something about which we feel strongly. All the pressures that women face, especially regarding food and weight, can make it hard to stop emotional eating. Your ability to treat yourself with compassion is one of the best ways you have to lower that pressure and stress. Eating junk food, binges, and overeating, though it feels like an indulgence, isn't actually being kind to yourself. We encourage you to consider what you can do to feed yourself emotionally, whether at PMS or another time, to help change and avoid eating patterns that don't serve you.
Premenstrual overeating, binges, and emotional eating are often part of an overall hormonal imbalance that can interfere with your life in so many ways. The ideal approach to PMS and PMDD is a holistic one that addresses all its underlying causes: diet, nutrition, lifestyle, and emotions. In the process, you'll be improving your overall health and wellness.